Monday, June 23rd
We have gone from counting down months to weeks to days and now we are counting down the hours until the 2014 NHL Entry Draft – 105 hours or less.
In this edition of the ramblings, I address questions posted from the DobberHockey Prospect Forum and want to personally thank each and every person who submitted a question. Look for this to become a regular element of my posted ramblings.
Here we go!
“How do you feel about this year’s draft class being considered by many as “weak”. In your opinion, is it a weak class compared to other draft years because there is no clear cut #1 pick, or do you think it’s a solid draft year filled with parity amongst the picks. I would love to hear your opinion on this year’s draft as a whole.”
The common opinion on this draft is that it is “weak”. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t some great players who will be available. I think that some of the knock against this crop is unfairly placed mainly because of how strong the 2013 NHL Draft class was with franchise type players in Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, Seth Jones and Aleksander Barkov. Moreover, the 2015 NHL Draft class isn’t helping the 2014 crop either with Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Noah Hanifin all available and looking like potential generational talents. Next year’s crop is setting up to be a truly outstanding class and it’s not overstating to say that it could be the best ever. There are likely 15 players who’d be considered a Top 5 pick if they were eligible in this year’s draft.
In saying that, the fact that the 2014 crop is sandwiched between two outstanding drafts isn’t helping its buzz. Overall, I do still think that the Ekblads, Bennetts, Reinharts, Draisaitls, Dal Colles and Ritchies all have star NHL potential but their NHL futures are a little less certain than we are used to with top 5 picks. The second tier of players (~6th -10th ) is composed of good talent that will become impact players. The draft drops off a bit after the first 9-10 picks and is composed of players (a bunch of them….maybe 30-40 players) that could fall in any sort of order. Don’t be shocked to see some players selected higher in this range than media anticipates. It’s wide open. You’ve been forewarned.
Where the draft is “weak” in my opinion, is on the blue line. There isn’t the normal depth of defensive prospects so I think you’ll see teams really value the defensemen with long-term projectable players. The Travis Sanheims, Jack Doughertys, Dominik Masins and Jacob Middletons have lots of promise and should be coveted.
I think this draft offers a unique opportunity to add some talented smaller players as investment assets. There’s quite a few of them!
I must say that one of the drafts strongest areas is in the goaltending department. It’s stronger than most years with lots of talent available. Thatcher Demko, Alex Nedeljkovic, Jonas Johansson, Ville Husso, Mason McDonald, Kaapo Kahkanen are all potential starters with Top 60 potential.
”Who is your non-first round sleeper from the OHL?
What are your thoughts on Ritchie?”
Eliminating Ekblad, Bennett, Ritchie, Dal Colle, Fabbri, Perlini, McCann, Goldobin, McKeown, DeAngelo, Lemieux, Cornel and Ho-Sang from discussion as they’ve all been considered first round talents, I would lean towards Alex Peters to be one name to watch. Peters projects as a stud shutdown defender and I love his NHL likelihood. Because he’s not overly offensive, I will give you guys a few more exciting “sleepers” to watch. Ryan Foss is a player to watch in the later rounds. Spencer Watson has shown the offensive skill and projects as a long-term prospect with a good ceiling. Keep an eye on defenseman Kyle Wood. If you want an industrious forward with a good projectable skill set, look at Jaden Lindo, Dylan Sadowy or Christian Dvorak (I really like this trio of players). Ryan MacInnis is arguably the best “sleeper” of the OHL class since he doesn’t project to be a first round selection but his size, skill and development curve is high.
If you’ve followed my work on twitter, you would know that I am a big fan of Nick Ritchie.
<blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>AMEN RT <a href=”https://twitter.com/SeanLafortune”>@SeanLafortune</a>: I honestly would not be shocked in the slightest if Nick Ritchie becomes the best player in the draft.</p>— Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood) <a href=”https://twitter.com/RossyYoungblood/statuses/479412823798214656″>June 18, 2014</a></blockquote> <script asyncsrc=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
<blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>LRT: I’m also a huge Nick Ritchie guy. I respect Bennett & Dal Collebut if anyone’s going to become a superstar from the OHL crop, it’s NR</p>— Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood) <a href=”https://twitter.com/RossyYoungblood/statuses/479413093974306816″>June 18, 2014</a></blockquote> <script asyncsrc=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
<blockquoteclass=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Gut feeling that Nick Ritchie and Leon Draisaitlwill be taken earlier than expected. Top 4 could be: Ekblad, Reinhart, Draisaitl& Ritchie</p>— Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood) <a href=”https://twitter.com/RossyYoungblood/statuses/480029639079784449″>June 20, 2014</a></blockquote> <script asyncsrc=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
Ritchie is a high potential player. He’s been under the critical eye of the scouting world since he was drafted 2nd overall to the Peterborough Petes. He was taken behind only Aaron Ekblad and there are some scouts I talk to that have him ranked as the best OHL player. You can’t teach his size and strength, two of his best attributes, but he’s also not merely some brute who manhandles smaller competition. Ritchie is also blessed with great skating abilities and strong puck skills. He’s also shown that he can impact the game in several different ways whether that’s through sheer skill or physicality. Prospects that show different levels to their games can reassure teams selecting high in the draft.
“Which prospects do you feel seem the most overrated and which are the most “under the radar”?”
I will start by saying that I really like Sam Bennett’s game and feel he’s worthy of 1st overall but the hype has gotten a little out of control with Bennett. He is not Jonathan Toews and he’s certainly not a lock or light-years ahead of other forwards in this draft, like some media are making him out to be. He’s in tough competition with Reinhart, Draisaitl, Dal Colle and Ritchie as the top forward. Personally, I see a team taking Reinhart ahead of him and giving Draisaitl a long look too.
I also feel Brendan Perlini, Jared McCann and Anthony DeAngelo are all somewhat overrated. Each of them have shown great flashes but all come with concerns for me. DeAngelo’s offensive game is outstanding. That won’t be debated. But, his defensive game is terrible at the OHL level and when you combine that with some publicly stated character concerns, you get a VERY high risk player…despite his tremendous offensive talent.
Nikita Scherbak, Juluis Honka, Nikolay Goldobin and heart-and-soul guys like Conner Bleackley and Adrian Kempe are players under the radar for me. Deeper in the draft, I like Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Ryan Donato, Vladislav Kamenev, Brett Pollock, Jake Walman, Luc Snuggerud as great value picks.
From Oakville Squires,
“Who would be top 10 forwards and top 10 defenceman from a multi-cat fantasy keeper prospective when combining the prospects from both the 2013 and 2014 draft years?”
Off the top of my head…
- Nathan MacKinnon
- Jonathan Drouin
- Aleksander Barkov
- Valeri Nichushkin
- Sam Bennett
- Leon Draisaitl
- Nick Ritchie (boosted because it’s multi-cat)
- Sam Reinhart
- Sean Monahan
- Michael Dal Colle
- Seth Jones
- Aaron Ekblad
- Darnell Nurse
- Nikita Zadorov
- Rasmus Ristolainen
- Josh Morrissey
- Shea Theodore
- Haydn Fleury
- Julius Honka
- Tony DeAngelo
“In your opinion, what are the kind of players the Sharks should be after in this draft? I have my own ideas, but I’m curious about yours. I remember reading you thought Thatcher Demko in your mock, but not sure if you think that’s who they should seek out.”
I don’t really see the Sharks as having one glaring weakness or team need. That will allow them to take the best player available when the team comes due to select. I did mock Thatcher Demko as they need to address their goaltending depth but they easily could wait until later. Thatcher isn’t necessarily locked-in as a first round selection but he is the probable goaltender to be taken first and kick start a goaltender run. The Sharks could target Demko but I would add skilled players like David Pastrnak, Nikolay Goldobin, Jakub Vrana, Sonny Milano and defensemen Julius Honka, Travis Sanheim and Jack Dougherty to the list too. As you can see, the Sharks can go a number of ways. They aren’t a very predictable team at the draft either so me rambling about potential targets is a bit redundant haha. Thanks Tim.
Which player has the biggest chance of dropping in the first round?
Who might be the biggest move up in the draft in the first round?
You can check out my recent Mock Draft with predictions of risers and fallers (plus more) here.
Tony DeAngelo would be an easy player to say might fall but Jake Virtanen (coming off shoulder surgery) might fall a tad too. With such a wide-open draft class, it’s tough to predict risers/fallers.
Travis Sanheim or Vladislav Kamenev are two players who could climb the draft boards.
If Bennett would fall to 5 and go to NYI does he become the best fantasy own?
I’d be shocked if that happened. If he does, it boosts his fantasy value because he’ll be tied to Johnny T.
In a points only keeper, 6forwards 4dmen, 1 goalie, 5 bench, and 9 prospects, who should go 1st overall, Ekblad or Bennett?
Depends on your scoring structure. Also, it shouldn’t just be limited to Ekblad and Bennett. They aren’t the only two to be considered potential 1st overall targets. In that structure, I still take Bennett but might consider Leon Draisaitl too.
“I’m wondering a whole lot about three players I’ve recently drafted: Leon Draisaitl, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Nick Ritchie.
Aside from clunky skating, what else does Leon Draisaitl need to improve upon to become an elite NHL player? As for Ehlers, how far out from the NHL do you see guys like him and William Nylander? What’s a realistic upside for Nik Ehlers? And with respect to Nick Ritchie, do you really see the “weight” issues being a concern going into the draft? Is he really that inconsistent? And how does he compare to power forward types like Brett Ritchie, Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly, Chris Brown, etc. (and any other young power forwards)? In your estimation, what is a realistic upside for Nick Ritchie, and do you believe he will be in the NHL next season as some have claimed?
Thanks so much for taking questions.”
Leon Draisailt – Skating is the only knock about him at this point. He just needs to show a continued development in all areas. I am not sure he becomes an “elite NHL player” like you suggest but he’s slated for a bright NHL career if he can translate his excellent playmaking mentality to the big leagues.
Nikolaj Ehlers – I wouldn’t want to be unreasonable with Ehlers so I predict he gets a long look at earning an NHL spot for the 2015-16. That depends a ton on who drafts him though and the opportunities that exist in that franchise. I think we’ll see him on a roster by 2016-17 at the very least and he should be a productive fantasy player by the end of the season. I’d say a realistic upside is 70-75 points and I’d use a David Krejci type of comparison for him (production-wise).
William Nylander – He’s a different scenario altogether because he isn’t playing on North American soil. He’s under contract so arrangements would have to be made with him with the team who drafts him before we know further.
Nick Ritchie – I spoke on Ritchie’s weight briefly during my segment on TSN1290’s Illegal Curve hockey show. I don’t see it as a problem. Teams have endless access to conditioning resources if they feel that’s an area of concern. Yes, his consistency has wavered over the past few years but I tie that to playing on one of the OHL’s worst teams over the past three years. It’s mentally and physically taxing to play under that pressure and effort levels waver as a result. When he’s on top of his game (occurred much more after he was surrounded with Hunter Garlent’s skill), he’s simply dominant. Few players in the OHL could touch him on that level. That’s the Nick Ritchie a team will draft. He’s not comparable to any of those power forwards. Ritchie is on a much higher level. He’s spent three seasons in the OHL so he does have a chance to play next year but I don’t see it happening. Again, depends on the team who drafts him and the presented opportunities. I see an upside similar to Nathan Horton or slightly better.
Which player(s) has/have the best chance at making an immediate fantasy impact. And is Draisaitl this year’s Nichuskin?
Aaron Ekblad should be the lone one to have any impact but Leon Draisaitl, Nick Ritchie and Sam Reinhart may sneak onto rosters if there’s an opening. In the end, I expect only Ekblad to make the show. Not sure what you mean by, “Is Draisaitl this year’s Nichushkin?” Draisaitl will be drafted much higher than Nichushkin was and he stands one of the better chances of making the NHL. I guess the latter is similar to Nichushkin and the fact that he plays a possession style of game is similar too. For the betterment of his game, I think we see Draisaitl returned to the WHL to work on his skating for one more season.
“It seems in recent years there is a trend for a D man’s offensive upside to be questioned, only to see him blossom the following year. Trouba, Zadorov, and Brodin are examples of this. Is there a D man in this year’s draft who you think might have similar hidden offense?”
Travis Sanheim showed flashes of an emerging offensive game at the Under-18. I think he is your best bet. Other guys like Julius Honka, Jack Dougherty, Roland McKeown, Marcus Pettersson are potential 1st round defenders but their offensive games are well documented.
Josh Jacobs, Johnathan MacLeod and Jacob Middleton have been praised more for their defensive skill sets but each of them have the talent to develop their offensive games into something “more” too. Keep an eye on them.
“How would you rate the quality of goalies in this draft, relative to the recent drafts?”
I spoke of this in the opening question. I really like the draft class this year and I’d say it’s a strong one compared to recent years. Nedeljkovic, Demko, McDonald, Husso, Johansson and Kahkonen are all worthy picks in the opening rounds and the draft provides some outstanding depth options including Brandon Halverson, Devin Williams, Brent Moran, Linus Soderstrom, Kevan Bouchard, Chase Perry, Edwin Minney, Matt Mancina, Julio Billia, Kevin Reich and Ilya Sorokin. The list doesn’t stop there either. The goaltending class isn’t receiving a lot of chatter but despite the skaters being somewhat underwhelming, it’s a strong crop between the pipes.
“How long before each of the top twelve prospects are ready for the NHL?”
Depends on who you consider the Top 12 ;) and where they end up on draft day (dictates ETA better IMO). From my Top 12,
- Aaron Ekblad – 2013-14
- Sam Reinhart – 2014-15 (has a chance to play 2013-14)
- Sam Bennett – 2014-15
- Leon Draisailt – 2014-15 (has a chance to play 2013-14)
- Nick Ritchie – 2014-15 (has a chance to play 2013-14)
- Michael Dal Colle – 2014-15
- Michael Nylander – 2015-16
- Nikolaj Ehlers – 2015-16
- Haydn Fleury – 2015-16
- Jake Virtanen – 2014-15
- Robby Fabbri – 2016-17 (maybe 2015-16)
- Brendan Perlini – 2016-17 (maybe 2015-16)
“Who will be that one guy, 5 years from now, that we look back and say ‘after the big 3, nobody hardly talked about this guy and his chances of being a star’?”
Michael Dal Colle, Nick Ritchie, William Nylander, Kasper Kapanen, Robby Fabbri, Nikolaj Goldobin, Josh Ho-Sang, Sonny Milano, Nikita Scherbak and Julius Honka all have that potential. I think Dal Colle, Ritchie and Nylander have the most promising upsides when factoring in NHL certainty too.
Thanks to all of our forum posters for submitting their questions. You can access this thread here and discuss amongst yourselves.
Check out more of my draft features:
Youngblood: Family Ties at the NHL Draft
Starting at the top of the draft, Sam Reinhart from the Kootenay Ice may have the most decorated family tree with father, Paul, playing over 700 NHL games spanning 11 seasons for two franchises (Atlanta Flames/Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks). Sam’s older brothers Max and Griffin both found their way onto NHL clubs. The Calgary Flames used their 64th selection in 2010 to pick up Max Reinhart, who also competed for the Kootenay Ice. After two full AHL seasons in Abbotsford, the eldest draftee is closing in on full time NHL action. In 2012, Garth Snow of the New York Islanders selected Griffin Reinhart with the 4th overall pick, adding a stabilizing defensive prospect with promising upside. Coming off a WHL Championship MVP performance, Griffin Reinhart captained his Edmonton Oil Kings to a CHL Memorial Cup Championship as well and looked every bit the stud defenseman that New York believed he could be. Projected as a top three player, Sam Reinhart stands a great chance of being the highest drafted Reinhart family member. The Reinharts appear to be a bloodline ready to take the NHL by storm. Read More…
Youngblood: Undersized Forwards Conquering New Heights
The 2014 draft crop is a unique group in a way that it appears to have a substantial number of small forwards hoping to have their names called when hundreds of prospects convene at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center. Look to the following brotherhood of undersized forwards to lead the pack of potential big time impact players.
Robby Fabbri, C (Guelph, OHL) 5-10, 165 lbs
Dating back to his minor midget days as captain of the Mississauga Rebels, Robby Fabbri has been proving to scouts that his offensive prowess was rare in nature as the diminutive pivot rallied off a league-leading 57 goals and 105 points topping GTHL peers such as Sam Bennett, Michael Dal Colle, Josh Ho-Sang and the under-aged prodigy Connor McDavid…Read More…
Are the Canucks looking to trade up?
One of my favourite draft prospects, scouts talk Nikolaj Ehlers
NHL Stars Henrik Lundqvist and Dustin Brown talk about being selected in their drafts?
I will be chiming back in this week talking more NHL Draft so please check back daily and follow on @RossyYoungblood on Twitter.
Thanks for reading,